Universal Music Group Takes a Stand Against A.I.-Generated Music
Universal Music Group is taking a stand against A.I.-generated music. The major record label has even gone as far as having a fake song using the voices of Drake and The Weeknd removed from services like YouTube.
According to a recent report published by Financial Times, Universal Music Group is strongly urging music streaming services such as Apple Music, YouTube and Spotify to block companies that use artificial intelligence from access to the label’s copyrighted songs. UMG says the A.I. companies use their artists’ music to train the technology required to produce melodies and lyrics that were never recorded by real people.
The Financial Times reports that emails sent out to popular digital streaming platforms last month by Universal Music Group spell out the label’s issue with A.I. technology and what the group intends to do about it.
“We have become aware that certain A.I. systems might have been trained on copyrighted content without obtaining the required consents from, or paying compensation to, the rightsholders who own or produce the content,” UMG wrote according to Financial Times. “We will not hesitate to take steps to protect our rights and those of our artists.”
In a statement provided to XXL on Tuesday (April 18), a spokesperson from Universal Music Group doubled down on its stance regarding A.I. versions of its signed artists appearing in unauthorized songs on streaming services and also shed some light on how UMG themselves use the technology.
“UMG’s success has been, in part, due to embracing new technology and putting it to work for our artists–as we have been doing with our own innovation around AI for some time already,” the statement reads. “With that said, however, the training of generative AI using our artists’ music (which represents both a breach of our agreements and a violation of copyright law) as well as the availability of infringing content created with generative AI on DSPs, begs the question as to which side of history all stakeholders in the music ecosystem want to be on: the side of artists, fans and human creative expression, or on the side of deep fakes, fraud and denying artists their due compensation.
The UMG spokesperson continues: “These instances demonstrate why platforms have a fundamental legal and ethical responsibility to prevent the use of their services in ways that harm artists. We’re encouraged by the engagement of our platform partners on these issues–as they recognize they need to be part of the solution.”
Just days after a TikTok user who goes by Ghostwriter used A.I. technology to create a song called “Heart On My Sleeve,” which finds deep fake versions of Drake and The Weeknd rapping and singing about Selena Gomez, UMG reportedly used the computer-generated track to set an example of what’s to come. According to a Digital Music News article published on Tuesday (April 18), Universal Music Group is responsible for having “Heart On My Sleeve” removed from services across the internet but not before the viral song mustered up hundreds of thousands of spins.
The subject of artificial intelligence has taken hip-hop by storm in recent weeks and has become quite a polarizing practice. While notables such as Drake and Young Guru have taken heavy exception to songs being created by A.I., artists like Hit-Boy are seemingly enamored with the unprecedented technology’s capabilities.